The Avon military site
Avon camp is a military site where 3,500 students at the ENSOA, the National Active Non-Commissioned Officers School, are trained in combat on foot, bivouacking and orienteering.
This camp, which includes 870 hectares of land which is part of the Natura 2000 “Chaumes d’Avon” site, has been the subject of a partnership between the Nouvelle-Aquitaine CEN and the ENSOA for 25 years.
The CEN assists the camp’s commanders to reconcile operational imperatives and preservation of biodiversity, e.g., works to restore environments or agri-environmental contracts allowing training grounds to be maintained by cattle grazing.
Avon army camp is a rare and exceptional example of a “bocage” landscape, with its expanses of dry grassland, its dense network of hedges and semi-permanent ponds.
The flagship species on the Avon military site are:
- Yellow-bellied toad (Bombina variegata)
- Great crested newt (Triturus cristatus)
- Red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio)
- Northern woodlark (Lullula arborea)
The Avon also hosts 22 species of orchids (including Orchis militaris). The CEN and the army are also keeping a close eye on the camp’s population of yellow-bellied toads, the largest in the Department of Deux-Sèvres.